Author: Karahann Kiser

Karahann Kiser

About Karahann Kiser

I am a creative from Bristol, TN. I enjoy: typography, geekery, design history, music and sarcastic remarks. I have an Master of Arts in New Media and am currently serving as the Chair of Graphic Design at Sullivan College of Technology & Design. I love to freelance -let’s build something together!

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead…”
-Albert Einstein

Two-Story Underground House

Inspired by the earthship’s ingenious design, this model of a modernization of an underground house was this semester’s project in Architectural Rendering. Use of recycled materials such as refurbished barnwood floors (fig. 2) and a large front-facing greenhouse with solar panels (fig. 6)  would cut down the cost of the build and energy efficiency of this structure.

The open, modern floorplan (fig. 5) has a sleeping loft with a bonus space to the left, which would make an excellent artist studio (fig. 9)  with the natural light from the top windows. Local stone would be stacked on the house’s face, (fig 1 & 6) bringing in a vernacular material so the house blends into it’s environment seamlessly. The back side of the house contains no windows because this is where the earth berm is located in order for the house to benefit from the soil’s warmth.

While the model shell itself was created in Maya, the furniture components were built in google sketchup and imported into the model for staging purposes. The scope of this project was rather ambitious on my part, though I still intend to move forward with the lighting and rendering of the model to create more realistic interiors.

“State of the Union” White House Projection Mapping Art Piece

Early last week we set out to complete our “State of the Union” stage. We decided on a sturdy 4x8ft sheet of Maple. Thanks to the kindness of a stranger, we rigged the wood sheet to the roof of Julie’s Subaru and a terrifying 10 mph trip to campus commenced with both of us half-hanging out the window to keep the board from floating off. After that misadventure, we went over to the Technology and Geomatics building here on ETSU campus with the final draft of the AutoCad compatible files (.dwg, .dxf). We sat down with professor Hemphill, (fig. 1) who was kind enough to help us arrange the components so they fit within 3 2x4ft sheets for the final laser cut. (fig. 2-4)

We then glued the stage together and painted it with a matte white paint, ideal for the projection component of the piece (fig. 5-8)


This piece was put on display in the “Rock the Ball” ETSU Art & Design exhibit, on the 4th floor in the “Extended Media” room.

White House Project – Animation Drafts

Progress Update: the Video Effects for the White House Project are now drafted. The background features a sound particle that reacts to the voiceover audio. (see EXPORT 1 Below.)  The layered white house vector file was broken into sections, with layers for each of the president puppet clips behind the windows in the main timeline composition. (fig. 1 & 2)

fig. 1 – Timeline With Window Layers

fig. 2 – Masked Out White House WindowsAE01

EXPORT 1 – Audio + Audio Particle Effects, No Kinetic Type

The next draft includes the Kinetic type animations, which are synced with the audio, the coloration of the foreground and background are also shifted toward the end, becoming more ominous as the timeline progresses.

EXPORT 2 – Kinetic Typography + Color VFX

The Puppets for the windows have been created, audio syncs drafted. (fig. 3)

fig. 3 – Cruz Puppet face by Julie Woodburn

Things are Never Twice The Same

As we age, we canonize and idealize our past.This book, “Things Are Never Twice The Same” is a collection and revisiting of my own personal history. There is a separation between the informative and intuitive sections of the story.

For my first round of idea finding, I revisited my grandfather’s farm, abandoned these 5 years he has been ill and now deceased, collecting artifacts of the life that was once lead in that small yellow house on a hill. I paid my grandmother Janice Kiser, now 83 years young, a visit to flip through albums and collect photos and stories. I recorded her as she expounded her recollection of the events behind each turning page.

Here are two such recordings.

I made careful note of each story with a description of each image to keep things in order. At this point I began scanning. the photos into workable digital files.

I began combining the images digitally, to test out effects and work up layouts for each of the pages. The informative portions of each page, the figures and the landscapes, were freed from their backgrounds and re-contextualized with writing. These writings are like the mantras, the spiritual portions of the visual narratives. These were inscriptions on the backs of photos written by my grandfather, Leon Kiser, pages from my great grandma Kiser’s journal, selections from my great grandfather harmon’s primitive Baptist Sweet Bird Song Book, and finally my own journal of poetry.

The compositions were unified by a patchwork quilt my great grandmother kiser made, as if she were stitching the family together. She had, by tradition, given each newly married couple in the family a patchwork quilt. Below, you see her presenting my parents with their quilt.


Once final compositions were completed, I several copies of them at half scale to experiment with obscuring the text. I wished In order to separate the informative (photographic) portions of the compositions from the poetic (written) portions of the pages, I began experimenting with color halftones. I printed the shapes of the text I wanted to obscure on transfer film, carefully trimming them to size. With a diluted alcohol solution brushed on the half-tone transfer shapes, I placed them in the areas of text I wish to obscure. With a couple of failed attempts, I learned that I needed to adjust the value of my lettering to a similar chroma as the range of my half-tone orange.

I tested my half-tone effect by looking through a photo-gel that I had acquired from a local theater, which later was glued onto the magnifying glass that became the viewfinder of the book.


Whitehouse Project – Verbal Graffiti

After an in-class discussion on March 16th, a consensus was reached that the voice of our projection project needed to be addressed. Is it a satire? Is it a more serious statement? Is it an immersive animation with a storyline or a more passive, atmospheric piece? These were the topics of discussion during our group meeting session a few days after class.

Vanessa Mayoraz mentioned Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin sketch on NBC’s Saturday Night Live during our last class period. She noted that Tina Fey did not change any of the verbiage from Palin’s address, but the mere reenacting of the original speech using similar mannerisms was enough to be humorous. This sparked an idea!

Regardless of political views and ideologies, what has appalled us collectively is the complete lack of respect and diplomacy of our presidential candidates. The language they have used impugning the reputation of each other has been a disgrace to our country, and it offends the social acceptance and freedoms our country was founded upon.

The decision was reached that the use of real sound clips gathered from various online media that depict the degrading and insulting language of our candidates will be edited together, to create a loop that builds  tension with layering. The candidates themselves will be yelling out the White House windows at each other (fig. 1.)


We hope to create a reaction of repulsion, as the sound layers build into what becomes simply noise.

Below, we have some examples of sound clips we are sampling, we are working on a master list.

Concepts: White House Animation

Taking the political satire angle, a consensus of animating the white house with different presidential outcomes was reached. Each group member chose a candidate and has begun the creative process of their projection animation, (Fig. 1 – 3)

Step 1 of constructing the stage is well under weigh, the vectors meticulously constructed in layers. (Fig 4) A prototype of this will be produced via lazer cutter out of inexpensive material, such as cardboard, for animation testing and troubleshooting.


Group Project
“The Light Theater”

A collaborative project with Laura Osteen and Julie Woodburn nicknamed “The Light Theater” (title still pending) will include scene projections on a 3-Dimensional backdrop or stage. The three parts of the project include:

  • Component 1 – Papercraft Set. Our set will be designed in illustrator, converted to cut lines, and lazer-cut out of a sturdy material and built up in paper-craft form. (example, Fig. 1 – 3) These set pieces may include elements of transparency or painted matte white, depending on the desired effect given the concept chosen.


  • Component 2 – Scene Animation. Our storyboard, either set on one Papercraft Set or several (based on which concept we choose) will then be brought to life with illustration and After Effects animation. Each collaborator will choose a scene, using the vector masks of the set pieces as our guides, and tell the story in whatever style we so choose individually. (example storyboards, Fig. 4 – 7)


  • Component 3 – Interactive Installation.  The animated scenes will be exported into separate video clips, which will be playable with a physical user interface.  In concept, with use of the Makey Makey technology the user can approach the animation and change the scene with the buttons.  (Fig. 8)


Type Design: 3D Print Letterpress (Part 3)

After aforementioned trials and tribulations due to the overuse of the Makerbot 3D printer, I sought out another resource to make my letter prints. Bob Oglesby, owner of Host Engineering in Jonesborough, Tennessee was kind enough to print them via his modeling machine. To save on materials cost, I extruded the models to .25in instead of type-height which would be .918in. I was very pleased with the resolution of the print quality(fig. 1.)


fig. 1

During the printing process there were several challenges. I had at first planned to also print my furniture in order to set my typeface onto the block like traditional letterpress. Due to time constraints, strips of mat board were cut and used as leading between lines and also along side the lines of type as rails (fig. 2.) The tracking of the typeface I meticulously built into the models so the letters were set flush to one another (fig. 3). Since only one copy of each letter form was printed, words and phrases with multiples had to go through the press several times. For example, the word “HONEY” (fig. 4) went through the press 2 times.

The letters themselves were slippery so the ink had to be thick and sticky. A glossy, red, rubber-based ink (fig. 5) adhered to the faces of the type well (fig. 6 & 7), it also made a wonderful “shick” sound when rolled on. (fig. 8)

The accompanying artwork are vintage woodcut illustrations which I digitally collaged and printed on Strathmore off white drawing paper. The lyrics used are from my original song “Free Running Soul.” 5 prints in total were produced, 4 illustrative posters and one specimen sheet. (fig. 9 & 10)


fig. 9


fig. 10

This poster series was displayed in the graduate show “New Media Collective” in the Digital Media center on East Tennessee State University campus on Friday, December 11th, 2015.

Type Design: 3D Print Letterpress (Part 2)

With the Makerbot Z18 on ETSU Campus, several test prints  of letters at different sizes were created. The first print was fairly successful, (fig. 1) printed 2 inches high at an an extrusion depth of 1/4 of an inch. The block was sturdy and had a consistent ribbed texture with the exception of the turns at the edges, which seemed to mound up a bit. The face of the type was much rougher than I expected, but with a little sanding would be usable.


fig. 1

My second test print was a “B” at a larger scale and a smaller extrusion depth (about .125 inches) than that of the “A” which achieved a much smoother face, so I converted the rest of my models to accommodate this larger, thinner format.  Unfortunately, a factor which I had not expected is the demand on print time nearing the end of the semester.  The third round of  prints, shown in comparison to the red “B” below, were much less successful (fig. 2). The printer head seemed misaligned and as time passed, the prints grew worse.


fig. 2

When I returned to do some trouble-shooting with the Makerbot and do a round of final prints, I found that the printer was not extruding filament at all. After further investigation I saw the cleaning brush was clogged with different color filament and the printer head itself was caked in plastic. This suggested that it was left running too long and it overheated, clogging the head completely. I changed out the filaments, heated and cleaned the print head and ran a few tests to no avail.

A new solution was needed. I gained access to a prototype machine in grey, Tennessee at a company called VinTec, courtesy of Bob Oglesby at Host Engineering (he’s my dad’s boss!) I converted my Maya Bianry Files to STLs, which are compatible with this machine and I am off to make some prints!